Charting a New Path Back for Dads
Although twenty years ago a stay at home dad might have been considered a rarity, today, an increasing number of men are choosing to become just that. The most common reason is that a partner is further along a career path and it makes sense to reverse the traditional roles and stay at home to look after the kids. This is not the only reason, though, and tens of thousands of men the length and breadth of the United States stay at home to look after the kids in their first few years.
As the kids grow older and begin to start school some of these same men will want to return to the workforce, and it is at this point that many start to encounter problems. There are employers who still find the concept to be something of a novelty, and they may look on a resume which says “stay at home dad” with bemusement or even suspicion. How then is it possible to break down these barriers and re-enter the workforce?
One of the biggest problems that men face when returning to the workforce is the long gap in employment history. Some employers take this as a sign that there is a certain lack of dedication to a career path, or may even judge it to show laziness. This is obviously completely wrong, but the reality is that it is a stigma that is most commonly faced. One way that many stay at home dads have found to overcome this is to get a part time job during their first or second year of caring for the kids. Not only does this show future employers that there is a willingness to work, but in many cases, it does also lead to a full time position further on down the road.
Another problem that stay at home dads face when trying to re-enter the workforce is that the current economic climate has led to a very competitive job market. With literally dozens of people applying for every vacant job, even getting to the interview stage itself can be an uphill task. Simply putting “stay at home dad” as a description for the last two or five years’ employment history is not enough to make a resume stand out. It is more advisable to go into some detail, such as why the decision was made, what being a stay at home dad entailed and any other information that may be relevant.
Those stay at home dads who have re-entered the workforce often comment that it was not getting through to the interview stage that was the problem, but it was getting the interviewer to focus on their career credentials from before. In some cases, it seemed that the interviewer was more interested in talking about how lucky they were to have the chance to stay at home with the kids, than talking about how suitable they may or not be for the job. Those dads intending to return to the workforce after spending some time caring for the kids at home might like to consider ways in which they can subtly direct any interviewer back to talking about the job on offer. One of the ways to do this is to briefly summarize why they chose to stay at home, reassure the interviewer that the children’s care plans were now being taken care of in other ways, and focus on why they are the best person for the job.
One of the issues that is not often thought about by men returning to employment after caring for their children is how they will relate to other people in the workplace when they start their new jobs. This is particularly applicable for those men returning to work in a predominantly male environment, where there may not be many other people who have gone through the same experiences. Finding something in common with new workmates is the easiest way to break the ice, and to begin fitting in at a new place of work.
Returning to the workplace after staying at home to look after the kids is arguably more difficult for men than it is for women, especially in today’s climate. Not only is there a battle with other people looking for work, but there is also the hurdle of social stigmas to be overcome. They can be overcome, though, and each year, thousands of men return to the workforce to continue their careers enriched by the experience of caring for their kids at one of the most important stages of their lives.
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